Grayton Beach State Park, Florida, wasn't on our radar when we decided to look for a great beach this past week.

My schedule (on the air from 3-7 pm) doesn't allow me to leave early on Fridays to get a jump on the weekend, but it does allow for some extra time come Monday morning. That being the case, when the rest of the family has to bug out from their condo rental at Gulf Shores and head home, I still have time to spend at the beach!

This was the case over the weekend when Shannon and I started driving on Saturday morning when we left the rented condo. While the rest of the family headed west to Louisiana, Shannon and I decided to find another beach on which to hang out for the rest of the day.

We followed the coast towards Destin, and we noticed that the water was getting prettier the farther east we traveled. Soon, we started seeing the signs for Grayton Beach State Park, and decided to see what it had to offer.

As we pull up to the gate, with the $5 per vehicle admission fee in hand, the park ranger waved me off, saying that the Florida Commission on Tourism was picking up the tab! It was our lucky day!

As we made our way towards the parking area for the beach, we noticed the camping sites (just 1 "primitive" site, the rest were trailer/rv sites, with a total of over 50) and the cabins (a total of 27) and thought that this would make a great weekend getaway!

We parked in the designated "Beach Area Parking" lot, it was a short walk (on an elevated walkway, built with planks that were surprisingly comfortable, not scorching hot!) to the beach. As we made our way across the walkway through the dunes, a beautiful shoreline opened up, with white, a sandy beach and beautiful emerald water.

Grayton State Park, Florida (Photo by John Falcon)

Families were playing in the surf; there was no music blaring; there were no parasails or jet skis interfering with Mother Nature's gifts - just a relaxing, beautiful beach.

Grayton State Park, Florida (Photo by John Falcon)

Rates for the cabins are $130/night in the high season, $110/night in the off season (check out the photos, the cabins are nice!), and the camping sites start at $24/night.  The park features inland bodies of water perfect for canoeing/kayaking, and the beach area provides kayak, scuba, snorkeling and swimming opportunities (without snorkeling gear we were able to find sand dollars).

Grayton State Park, Florida (Photo by John Falcon)

Of course, it is a state park, so the rules are different than the regular public beaches:

  • All plants, animals and park property are protected. The collection, destruction or disturbance of plants, animals or park property is prohibited.
  • Fireworks are prohibited in all Florida state parks.
  • Alcoholic beverage consumption is allowed in designated areas only.
  • Pets are permitted in designated areas only. Where allowed, pets must be kept on a hand-held leash, no longer than six feet and well behaved at all times. Service animals are welcome in all areas of the parks.
  • Fishing, boating, swimming and fires are allowed in designated areas only. A Florida fishing license may be required.
Grayton State Park, Florida (Photo by John Falcon)

It's a good idea to visit the Florida State Parks website to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations before visiting. Each park will have its own set of rules, so get to know your park before you go!.

(Reserve America, Florida State Parks, Visit Florida)